Ten Chinese Nationals Charged With Violating Court Orders To Remain In U.S. As Witnesses For ‘Maternity House’ Investigations
A Total of 11 who Fled U.S. Face Charges that include Obstruction of Justice, Lying on Visa Applications, and Violating ‘Material Witness’ Court Orders
SANTA ANA, California – Ten Chinese nationals who fled the United States earlier this month were charged today with violating federal court orders to remain in the country during investigations into “Chinese maternity houses” that allegedly helped women come to the U.S. on fraudulent visas so they could give birth to children who would become U.S. citizens.
Criminal complaints filed in United States District Court this afternoon accuse 10 of the defendants with obstruction of justice and contempt of court for leaving the United States after being ordered to remain in the country and provide information in an investigation into businesses that allegedly helped mainly Chinese women come to the U.S. to give birth.
In addition to the charges related to the alleged violations of the court orders designating them as material witnesses, 10 of the defendants are also charged with making false statements on visa applications for allegedly lying to federal immigration authorities about the true purpose of their trips to the United States.
An eleventh defendant who had not been formally ordered to remain in the United States as a material witness is charged only with visa fraud.
All but one of the defendants were customers of Chinese maternity house operations in Southern California who paid up to $50,000 to obtain temporary visitor’s visas for authorization to travel to the United States by fraudulently claiming their stay was only for several days, according to court documents.
Ten of the defendants are among 29 individuals who were designated by United States Magistrate Judges as material witnesses after they were encountered by federal law enforcement authorities who executed 37 federal search warrants in March across Orange, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino counties. As detailed in the affidavits in support of those search warrants, federal agents are investigating multiple Chinese maternity operations in Southern California for suspected immigration fraud and tax fraud, as well as failing to report foreign bank accounts in China and Hong Kong.
Federal arrest warrants have been issued for all 11 defendants named in the criminal complaints filed today. All but one of the defendants are charged with obstruction of justice and criminal contempt of court, and 10 of them are also charged with making a false statement on a visa application.
The defendants charged today are:
Dongjiang He (贺东江), 46, who last resided in Rancho Cucamonga, allegedly fled with his wife on April 16. On his visa application, Dongjiang He listed his occupation as “Government” and his position as “Project Manager and Secretary General” for the China Nonferrous Metals Techno Economic Research Institute, which is located in the Haidian District in Beijing.
He’s wife, Zhichan Yu (余芝婵), 40, who last resided in Rancho Cucamonga, is a graduate of the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine who allegedly made a false statement on her visa application when she listed that she would be visiting Hawaii for only 15 days, when she actually intended to be in Southern California for several months and give birth.
Jun Xiao (肖俊), 30, and LongJing Yi (易珑静), 30, who last resided in Irvine, allegedly fled on April 4. According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint against them, Xiao and Yi made false statements on their visa applications, namely that they would be staying in the United States for only 15 days. Moreover, Xiao and Yi paid only $4,600 of the $32,291 in hospital charges from Yi’s giving birth at an area hospital, according to court documents. In this case, Yi is charged only with visa fraud as she had not yet appeared before a judge in relation to the government’s application to have her designated as a material witness.
Jia Luo (罗佳), 30, who last resided in Rancho Cucamonga, allegedly fled on April 12. According to the affidavit written by a special agent with IRS - Criminal Investigation in support of the criminal complaint against Luo, Luo lied on her visa application and lied to U.S. customs officers in Hawaii when asked her if she was planning on having a baby in the United States.
Renlong Chen (陈人龙), 34, and his wife Wei Wang (王伟), 33, who last resided in Rancho Cucamonga, allegedly fled on April 12. Chen and Wang are accused of making false statements on their visa applications by stating they would be visiting the United States for only eight days, when they actually made arrangements to stay at a Chinese maternity house for three months so that Wang could give birth in the United States.
Jie He (何洁), 29, who last resided in Rancho Cucamonga, allegedly fled on April 13. Jie He allegedly made false statements on her visa application, including that she planned to stay in the United States for only 20 days, when she actually entered into a contract to pay approximately $50,000 to obtain a visa and stay in the United States for several months to give birth. According to the affidavit in this case, Jie He told investigators that she flew into Las Vegas, rather than Los Angeles, because the Chinese maternity operator had advised her that it was easier to enter through Las Vegas, according to an affidavit in the case.
Eryun Zhang (张尔芸), 25; her husband, Liang Ni (倪梁), 25; and her mother, Ji Xu (徐激), 50, who last resided in Rancho Cucamonga, allegedly fled on April 14. According to the criminal complaint, Ni admitted that during an interview conducted at the U.S. Consulate in China, he falsely stated that the purpose of their trip was for their honeymoon, rather than the true reason, which was for Zhang to give birth in the United States. Xu is charged with violating the court’s order to remain in the U.S., but she is not charged with visa fraud.
All of the defendants are fugitives and are believe to be in China at this time.
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
If convicted, the defendants face statutory maximum sentences of 25 years in federal prison for the charge of false statement on a visa application and five years in federal prison for the charge of obstruction of justice. There is no maximum penalty for the charge of criminal contempt of court.
These cases are the product of a joint investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and IRS - Criminal Investigation.
Release No. 15-040